As the Bengals prepare for their second stint on Hard Knocks in four years, owner Mike Brown has explained the franchise’s reasoning for doing it.
“What we found when we did that show was people saw us differently,” Brown tells Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com. “They saw us more positively. They saw us as just people.”
Actually, former receiver Chad Johnson/Ochocinco/Johnson was seen as a caricature. In hindsight, his “child please” overexposure during 2009 training camp was the point at which the whole thing started to come off the rails for him. While he had 1,047 receiving yards that year, getting shut down by Darrelle Revis in consecutive weeks to close the campaign greased the skids toward the collapse of his career.
“We sometimes are portrayed as almost villainous,” Brown added. “The players are sometimes thought to be selfish or even criminal. I’m going to the far end of the spectrum there, but we get some very difficult criticism.”
Um, Mike? The players are sometimes thought to be criminal because (wait for it) some of them are criminals. Or at least they were criminals, back when the Bengals didn’t have much of a scouting staff and so in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, the Bengals gravitated toward talented players who slid down the board because of off-field issues, like arrests.
The change coincided with a decision to beef up the scouting department, along with a belief that, when coach Marvin Lewis opted to stay with the team after his contract expired in early 2011, he insisted on a different strategy for loading up the locker room.
Now, the Bengals aren’t viewed as “almost villainous.” They’re considered, at least by us, to be almost elite. And they could end the season as almost NFL champions. Or even better.